A standout Las Vegas football recruit signed to play football at Oklahoma has finalized a plea agreement that led to the dismissal of all felonies he faced in connection with an attack on an ex-girlfriend. Wednesday, Justin Chaisson pleaded no contest to four gross misdemeanors in Clark County (Nev.) Court: two counts of false imprisonment, one count of malicious destruction of private property and one count of conspiracy to commit coercion and/or false imprisonment. District Judge Stefany Miley approved the plea agreement and sentenced Chaisson to three years probation and 120 hours community service. As part of the agreement, Chaisson was also told to avoid any contact with the ex-girlfriend and a female witness of the crime. Miley’s approval of the guilty plea deal appears to have paved the way for Chaisson to still join the Sooner football team. While Sooner coach Bob Stoops has yet to officially announce whether he will still honor Chaisson’s football scholarship, Chaisson’s lawyer, Michael Cristalli, said the plea deal was carved out around OU’s admittance policy and that he anticipates his client will be attending OU in the fall. “During the course of discussions with the district attorney, throughout the process, I had kept OU in the loop on all these issues,” Cristalli told The Oklahoman. “I understood what OU’s policy was, I understood what we could and what we couldn’t agree to. The resolution we were able to achieve was consistent with the requirements OU made me aware of. We finalized a negotiation to make him eligible to go to OU and pursue a great academic and athletic four years at the university.” Chaisson, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School, was one of OU’s top 2009 signees. He notched 148 tackles and 28 sacks during his final two seasons of high school and verbally committed to OU over a host of schools, including Florida, UCLA, Arizona and Iowa. In addition to the sentencing handed down by Miley, Chaisson will also have to attend long-term domestic-violence counseling and complete an additional 48 hours of community service, coming from last week’s court appearance where he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors: coercion and battery constituting domestic violence. All of Chaisson’s charges stem from an altercation that occurred March 17 with an ex-girlfriend that he had dated for four years. According to a Las Vegas police report, Chaisson and his 17-year-old former girlfriend got into an argument in a parking lot at Bishop Gorman before he followed the girl to a coffee shop. Outside the coffee shop, Chaisson grabbed the girl's arm and forced her into the back seat of his sport-utility vehicle, according to the report. The girl told police Chaisson punched her in the ribs and drove her to the desert before pulling her out of the vehicle. She said that’s when he placed a screwdriver to her neck and threatened to kill her, according to the report. When two of the girl's friends drove up to the scene Chaisson again grabbed her and put her in his vehicle, according to the report. One of the friends called 911 while following Chaisson's vehicle. According to the report, the incident ended after Chaisson drove his ex-girlfriend to a storage facility and told her to get out of his vehicle. Chaisson was charged with four felonies: coercion, coercion with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment. He was also charged with a count of false imprisonment, a gross misdemeanor, and three counts of battery constituting domestic violence, all three misdemeanors. Cristalli said Chaisson’s involvement in the community, including working with Catholic charities and tutoring children, as well as several letters written on his behalf by classmates and teachers helped orchestrate the plea deal. Cristalli said Chaisson had not returned to Bishop Gorman since the incident, but is working toward getting his high school diploma. This is the second year row that OU has had to deal with an incoming recruit that faced felony criminal charges. Last spring, Atlanta wide receiver Josh Jarboe was allowed to keep his football scholarship and enroll at OU after his two felony gun charges were pleaded down to misdemeanors. But Jarboe was ultimately dismissed from the team when a YouTube video of him rapping about shooting people surfaced days before the start of fall camp. He eventually transferred to Troy. OU officials, however, should have had an easier time vetting Chaisson’s charges. Bishop Gorman is a place the Sooner coaches are familiar with as the parochial institution has become a recruiting pipeline for OU in recent years. Sooner running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Ryan Reynolds are both alums of Gorman, and former Gorman football coach David White is now an OU graduate assistant. “I had a great experience interacting with the people at OU, they don’t automatically label somebody,” Cristalli said. “It doesn’t meant they aren’t concerned, but the one thing I gathered from my experience with them is that they give people an opportunity to find out what kind of character an individual has. They’ve ultimately have had the opportunity to get to know Justin and his family, and that the allegations were not reflective of his personality. “This was a bump in the road, but it’s something he’s learning from. Hopefully the university and the people in Oklahoma will give Justin the opportunity to get to know him and realize he’s a kind person.”
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